Earlier this year when the trailer for Id’s DOOM reboot/sequel hit the web, I didn’t think much about it. The last DOOM game that I played the was SNES port that came out way back in the day. I’m not the biggest First-Person Shooter fan in the world, though it does seem that’s the majority of the games I play. That’s probably because this genre has taken the world of gaming by storm, and for better or for worse, that’s DOOM’s fault. In this age of HALO‘s and endless Call of Duty‘s, would a new DOOM game have anything new to offer? Yes and no.
DOOM scratched an itch I didn’t even know that I had, it’s a moderately difficult shooter will an emphasis on running and gunning. The game famously doesn’t have a reload button for the guns (just hold the trigger and shoot) and there is no regenerating health. I was nervous when I first sat down and played the opening level of this new DOOM game. Would I, a game player fully coddled by the super-easy tropes of modern shooters, be able to hang in DOOM’s world? Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be able to if not for the new addition to DOOM–the enemies are the power-ups. When the game was announced, much was made of the game’s graphic “glory kill” mechanic. I wasn’t super-impressed with the notion that rather than simply shooting an enemy I could rip its heart out and shove it down its throat. I mean, that’s cool and all, but gratuitous violence just for the sake of violence no longer moves my needle these days. Thankfully, the gore serves a purpose: do a glory kill and enemies erupt into a cloud of health and ammo power-ups. This makes simply gunning down everything you see willy-nilly not always the smart thing to do. Besides implementing a bit of strategy into the mix, this system helps propel the player forward into combat at all times. Doing well in the game? Great, keep killing up to stay on top. About to die? Keep killing to stay alive. You can’t play DOOM cautiously, you’re forced to charge forward at all times. This enemies-as-a-power-up system turns the big fights into an Arkham-like rhythm game of carnage. It takes a bit of getting used to at first but becomes addictively fun very quickly.
This glory kill mechanic is also the reason why you feel like such a badass while you’re playing the game. The world of DOOM is a frightening mix of blood-soaked industrial corridors and nightmarish hellscapes, and yet at no point did I feel like a scared little rabbit. The guns are big and the action is such that you can’t help but feel like Predator-era Schwarzenegger. The last time a game made me feel like badass was Resident Evil 4. But don’t get me wrong, the creatures and environments are scary stuff. The game looks and plays like a dream (played on PS4, at least). Where the game is a little lacking is in the level design, which follows a fairly predictable pattern of tight corridors with few enemies followed up by massive area-style rooms that are hilariously stuffed with foes. It becomes a bit of a joke every time you enter one of these massive rooms of death because you know you’re about to face a gauntlet of demons. Just once, I wish the developers would have had you walk through a big room only to find it truly empty, just as a joke. The game also could have used a few more boss fights. There are only three, including the final boss, and only the first is of any real challenge. I siked myself up for the final battle, only to find it to be the easiest of the bunch. Of course, keep in mind that I played DOOM on the normal difficulty.
DOOM’s biggest shortfall, however, is in the multiplayer department. It’s a boring, run-of-the-mill affair that introduces some cool concepts (like a human-controlled super demon) that feels tacked on and undercooked. I played a few matches online and quickly returned to the singleplayer campaign. There’s also a level designer that feels both shallow and too deep (if that makes sense) that I toyed with for about 20 minutes before vowing to never touch it again. But really, all DOOM needed to do was present a fantastic main game and that’s what it does. Every time I finished a level I found myself eager to replay it almost immediately in order to kill more baddies and find more secrets. Did I mention the secrets yet? The game is overflowing with stuff to find and hidden areas to explore. The exploration aspect of DOOM cannot be overlooked. Despite the combat’s propulsive nature, the game rewards those who take a moment to look around. An early level secretly hides an advanced weapon that, if you find it, makes the first part of the game that much more manageable. It’s secrets like this that I really appreciate.
If you like shooters or have given up on the modern FPS genre, you owe it to yourself to check out DOOM. It’s one helluva game (pun intended).